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A piece that surely was a rerun on this week’s Sunday Morning program made me think. (I know, thinking on a weekend, what’s next?). It …

A piece that surely was a rerun on this week’s Sunday Morning program made me think. (I know, thinking on a weekend, what’s next?). It was all about how J Crew launched itself into the bride wars. Designed, I’m assuming, for the anti-bridezilla, the J Crew line aims to give wedding parties easy, value-conscious alternatives to wedding gown warehouses and exclusive ateliers. Though it may not have been the most obvious move from the company, it’s been a hit. Finally, a bridesmaid’s dress you can wear again (really!).The direction was especially counterintuitive given that according to Jenna Lyons, J Crew’s creative director, the focus had been on "making [the brand’s offerings] cheaper, making it really available and ubiquitous for everyone." That was until former Gap exec Mickey Drexler took over as CEO and made the company more design focused. Then came Crewcuts and now J Crew has an accessories focus just in time for what many agree is an accessories heyday. This has all been done within the footprint of the original brand–the gowns aren’t froufrou, the kids’ wear doesn’t scream juvenile. So what’s to be learned from all of this? Maybe there are categories in your store you need to explode with special focus or private-label product. What are your competitors neglecting or not doing well and how can you capitalize? Drexler says J Crew was missing "vision, point of view, encouraging creativity, detail and respecting your customer." What’s your store missing? What are your customers repurposing? What are they shopping gift and adult stores for? Are your customers taking your tees home to bedazzle, adding ribbon tassels to tutus or otherwise embellishing their canvas sneakers? If so, how about custom product or DIY workshops?

 

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